VisionLink Blog

By Ken Gibson

February 23, 2017

CEOs, What Job Have You Hired Your Pay Strategy to Do?


Clayton Christensen is widely considered one of the world’s prominent thought leaders on the subject of innovation.   His writings on creative disruption changed the way businesses evaluated competition and how to remain not only relevant but ahead of the transformation curve.  His latest writings focus on a concept called the “theory of jobs to be done” in which he posits: “When we buy a product, we essentially ‘hire’ something to get a job done. If it does the job well, when we are confronted with the same job, we hire that same product again. And if the product does a crummy job, we ‘fire’ it and look around for something else we might hire to solve the problem.”  (Clayton Christensen: The Theory of Jobs To Be Done, Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge, Dina Gerdeman, October 3, 2016)  It occurred to me that Christensen’s premise doesn’t just apply to the products we deliver to the marketplace.  It applies to all of the systems and strategies we employ in our business including those related to compensation.

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By Ken Gibson

February 16, 2017

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent: What the Best Expect


Last week I attended the SaaStr Conference in San Francisco.  If you are not familiar, this event attracts about 10,000 attendees from the technology world to hear and learn from some of the industry’s most successful SaaS company founders and leaders.  These are individuals who have had to attract and develop talent in a highly competitive environment—and have succeeded in doing so on their way to building valuable companies.  However, the principles and practices they apply in attracting and retaining top talent are not unique to their industry.  They are what every successful organization does.  So, let’s learn from them, shall we?

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By Ken Gibson

February 07, 2017

Avoid Compensation Chaos by Building an Enduring Pay Strategy


You are about to introduce a phantom stock plan to 15 of your key people.  You have read up on this concept and decided it is a perfect fit for your business.  You are a private company and don't want to give equity away, but you do want your executive team to adopt a stewardship approach to their role in building the future business; you'd like them to think more like you as the CEO or owner.  This led you to speak with your company’s accounting firm and they agreed phantom stock would be a good plan from both a tax and cash flow perspective.  So, with all of that logic and the positive momentum you've garnered, you contacted your attorney and asked him to draft a plan agreement.  He's done so and you're about to meet with your key producers and introduce the plan to them.  STOP!! Please don't go any further.

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By Ken Gibson

February 02, 2017

6 Secrets to Improved Employee Performance


When I ask CEOs and other business leader what kind of culture they will need to achieve their organization’s growth goals, I get a variety of responses that communicate one common theme.  Some chief executives talk about the need to attract better talent.  Others suggest they need the people who are already on board to step it up a notch in helping the company achieve its goals.  Most are looking for greater passion and engagement on the part of their people.  When I hear their answers, what I commonly say in response is: “It sounds to me like what you're looking for is a performance culture.”

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By Ken Gibson

January 25, 2017

3 Incentive Plans that Don’t “Cost” Anything


Most CEOs and other business leaders feel pressure to contain costs.  As a result, when it comes to compensation they are wary of “adding” plans to their pay mix because they don’t want to add expense to their cash flow or P&L statements.  It is certainly a valid concern and one we address with our clients often when they are considering various kinds of value-sharing plans.  However, when it comes to compensation, “expense” has to be carefully defined or a business may keep itself from implementing a plan that is ideal for its employees because those safeguarding profits make the wrong assumptions about “costs.”  Here’s what I mean.

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By Ken Gibson

January 18, 2017

Why Pay Matters: 7 Reasons Your People Care about their Compensation


If you read some of the literature these days about pay incentives and other rewards strategies, you could easily conclude that what and how you pay your employees doesn’t really matter.  “Experts” suggest people aren’t motivated by pay “schemes” and that performance is driven solely by intrinsic factors that have nothing to do with compensation.  However, if you lead a business, I doubt you have ever seriously considered not paying your people (“Hey, just enjoy the intrinsic rewards!”) or paying everyone the same (although one CEO did actually attempt that).  What researchers and authors that downplay the importance of your compensation approach have overlooked are the fundamental, common-sense reasons people care about both how and how much they are paid. 

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By Ken Gibson

January 11, 2017

NEW REPORT: The Reinvention of Performance Management


Free ReportPerformance appraisal methods are undergoing a revolution.  Formal systems are on the decline and more fluid approaches are on the rise.  This reinvention is widespread and growing by the day.  A 2014 Deloitte University Press article described the trend this way:

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By Ken Gibson

January 06, 2017

Which LTIP is Best for Your Company?


Any company that has a plan for growth should have a long-term incentive plan that helps communicate and reinforce that goal to employees.  In our work with client companies, we find this to be the most common compensation ingredient missing.  An effectively designed LTIP can focus key producers on the performance factors that will drive the growth of the business while simultaneously help retain that talent.  That said, there are a myriad of incentive plans that can be considered.  So, how do you determine which one is right for your company? 

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By Ken Gibson

January 03, 2017

5 Talent Trends You Should Pay Attention to in 2017


Over the past few years, if you lead a business you have likely experienced seismic shifts in your workplace.  Most of these are centered on talent issues—culture, performance, recruiting, retention, millennials, gen Z, compensation, engagement and so on.  All of your former assumptions about managing talent have been challenged and your need for adaptation, innovation and transformation has been accelerating at breakneck speed.  I’d like to tell you it’s going to slow down in 2017, but you know better than that.  Instead, let’s identify the primary issues you should pay attention to this year and talk about how you can thrive in this new age of employee empowerment. 

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By Ken Gibson

December 21, 2016

How Do You Reward Innovation?


Highly successful organizations don’t just have a performance culture; they have a culture of innovation.  In fact, you really can’t have one without the other.  Without new product development, market expansion, customer experience transformation and other hallmarks of committed innovators, businesses experience an erosion of confidence—and diminished employee performance soon follows.  So, how do you pay people in a way that fuels the cycles of creative output you need?

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By Ken Gibson

December 16, 2016

What is Your Pay Strategy Missing?


When you look at your company’s compensation program, what do you see?  Do you see something that is having a strategic impact on the way your employees view their roles and stewardships?  If not, why not?  What purpose do you need your rewards approach to help you achieve that it is not currently achieving?  Do you know?  Okay, I’ll stop with the quiz now.  If you’re unclear or uncomfortable with your answers to those questions, don’t be overly concerned.  You’re not alone.  Most business leaders are.

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By Ken Gibson

December 13, 2016

The 4 Primary Causes of Poor Employee Performance


You set growth goals.  You assign revenue and profit targets.  You schedule monthly tracking sessions to review both.  You follow a performance appraisal routine for each level of employee.  You pay well and treat your workforce like family.  Yet, your people consistently miss the key performance indicators for which they’re responsible.  You look across the cultural landscape of your company and reluctantly have to admit to yourself: “I seem be perpetuating poor employee performance.”  You throw your hands up.  “What am I missing?”                                                                                                           

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By Ken Gibson

December 07, 2016

Priority #1 for 2017: Define Your Performance Framework


According to PwC’s 2016 global CEO survey, most chief executives entered this year with less optimism about the business environment than the previous three years.  Pessimism and uncertainty were prevalent in their responses.  When the global consulting firm gathers its results for 2017, it remains to be seen whether a level of optimism will emerge post-election, at least from CEOs in the United States--and whether any expression of surging enthusiasm will have an "optimistic but cautious" modifier associated with it.  

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By Ken Gibson

December 01, 2016

Secrets of an Effective Millennial Pay Strategy


Most of us like to put things in nice, neat categories.  It makes life simpler because generalizations are easier to digest and accept.  However, when it comes to people, categories can be dangerous.  Just when we think we have a group “pegged,” someone does something out of the norm and ruins our model.  This is a particular problem when it comes to Millennial employees—a group that has been labeled perhaps more than any other in today’s workforceThose labels often come in the form of myths, which impact the way business leaders think about paying and managing this unique group of high-potential contributors.

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By Ken Gibson

November 29, 2016

Employee Retention: 4 Reasons You Risk Losing Your Best People


It is both the best of times and the worst of times to lead a business these days.  If you’re a CEO, president or enterprise owner, you see limitless possibilities for company growth (best of times) but you’re underperforming (worst of times).  You have a great product (best of times) but not all the talent you need to fully leverage your business model (worst of times).  You have great ideas for innovation (best of times) but shareholders are asking you to cut costs (worst of times).  And just as you’re about to launch a market initiative that could literally double your revenue (best of times) the person leading that project walks in and tells you he’s leaving (worst of times).  

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CLIENT SUCCESS STORIES

"VisionLink has helped us successfully navigate a number of complex issues regarding our rewards programs. It has dealt with all facets of these varied issues with a high degree of competence, integrity, and straight forward advice. VisionLink's experienced team has consistently delivered first class results in a timely, professional manner and has become a valued Storm partner."

Thomas K. Grzywacz
Storm Industries, Inc.

"VisionLink has helped us successfully engineer a long-term incentive plan that has empowered our company to reward and retain key talent while increasing shareholder value. The knowledge, patience and deep experience of its team members helped us navigate a road that was unfamiliar to us. Ultimately, VisionLink designed a plan that met the high standards of both stockholders and key management employees. We have further engaged VisionLink to address our business succession and transition planning needs."

Reggie Dupre'
Dupre Logistics

"Over the past several years, National Technical Systems has engaged VisionLink to provide insight and direction on a number of executive compensation issues, as well as a performance evaluation of our 401(k) plan. Under its direction, NTS completely revamped executive level rewards to align with our business growth objectives and the strategic plan of the company. VisionLink's insight and direction have been invaluable. NTS has achieved its growth objectives and our executives feel appropriately rewarded for their performance."

Bill McGinnis
National Technical Systems

"VisionLink arrived on the scene just in time for us. We needed a new framework for our short-term and long-term incentive plans. VisionLink's modeling and forecasting process broadened our horizons and expanded our view of how to use a good incentive system to build, retain and strengthen our senior management team. We remain impressed by their expertise, professionalism and great service."

James Keng
Jimway, Inc.

"Our firm has had a long-term incentive plan for over eight years but we never quite felt like it was firing on all cylinders. We hired VisionLink to re-energize our plan, and they did it! We now have a cohesive awards strategy that's fair to shareholders and valued by our employees. VisionLink's team is technically skilled and very creative. We're happy to recommend VisionLink to firms looking to upgrade their management incentive programs."

John M
FTO Inc.

"Our company was like VisionLink's typical clients. We were great at sales and haphazard at how we compensated our people. VisionLink's process brings great clarity and confidence to our growth planning - and makes compensation a great growth capability."

Dan Sullivan
Strategic Coach ©

"The team at VisionLink helped our company structure a long-term incentive plan that parallels the company's strategy for continued growth as a global market leader within our industry. Their approach resulted in a program that our corporate team and executives embraced on both a professional and personal basis. Through VisionLink's guidance and execution, we were able to create both a motivational tool for current team members and a recruiting device to attract future executive level associates. Well done!"

Mark Rhoades
Fluidmaster, Inc.

"As a leading direct seller of scrapbook photo albums and supplies, Creative Memories has independent consultants across the country. And for over six years now, VisionLink has helped us to stay connected and administer a voluntary 409A non-qualified plan for them. VisionLink has provided support for all aspects of our plan from notification of eligibility through registration and distribution. The VisionLink support team has offered suggestions for improving processes and provided us with outstanding service year after year."

Guy Walker
Creative Memories North America